Sunday, January 23, 2005

Every Village Has An Idiot

And Cross-Currents has Jeff Ballabon. I've suffered through a dozen of his blogs and have yet to be enlightened about anything. What is this guy doing on a blog with numerous prestigious commentators? Why must the person with the least to say post the most?

With a BA from Yeshiva University and a JD from Yale, Ballabon represents to me everything that is odious about the organization man, a go-along-to-get-along corporate player who combines pomposity, smugness, and mendacity to succeed at hawking a destructive product - television forced on children at school.

Ballabon writes:

"I may participate in blogging, but "I" am not a "blogger." I am a Jew. I am an American Jew. As a Jew and an American, I am bound religiously, morally, ethically to Halacha, American law, and the dictates of my conscience - my "Sechel Ha'enoshi".

So, unless someone can explain to me why I should feel bound to "blogging ethics" I hereby declare my intention to remove, retroactively, any post of mine which, upon reflection, I find to contain halachically or ethically problematic material...."

A PR release. A criticism. Criticism.

A woman writes: "Well, Luke, if there aren't any ethics regarding the bad taste of blogging on about absolutely nothing, there should be."

A man writes: "I've had enough of his self-righteous nonsense too. Worst of all it's all poorly written. This guy hawks sex, violence and junkfood to kids. Which is
fine if you're up front about what you're doing. But stop justifying it with
talk about your "hyphen-journalism awards."
"He was VP of Court TV (ever wonder why we never saw the Orthodox Rabbi Lanner trial live, only the trial of a Reform Rabbi Neulander?)."
From a Google search on "Jeff Ballabon," it appears that his job is "Apologist-In-Residence" for Channel One, which has beamed a newscast into thousands of schools for the past decade. I can think of few things that children need less than TV news piped into their schools.

According to this Primedia press release: "Its award-winning 12-minute news broadcast is seen daily by more than 8 million students and 440,000 educators in more than 12,000 middle and high schools across the country."

Jeff Ballabon makes his living increasing American children's intake of television. Wow. That's honorable. But I'm sure he can justify it halachicly (Jewish Law).

I've done a ton of disreputable things but I hope I never sink so low as to promote television intake by a captive audience of school children.

As Dennis Prager points out, television news gives you an inherently distorted view of the world because it depends on pictures, on action video. School kids would be better off watching reruns of Mary Tyler Moore than Ballabon's Channel One. I bet his own kids don't have to watch Channel One at their yeshiva. Instead, his company forces it on the goyisha kids (and some unlucky Jews) and Ballabon profits.

September 11, 2001
by David Crary The Associated Press

Sixth- and seventh-graders required to watch TV ads at school. The Teletubbies helping to promote giant burger chains. Advertisers seeking data on how children nag their parents to make a purchase.

Those were some of the practices targeted Monday as psychologists and parent activists met for a symposium on exploitive advertising aimed at children -- a counterpoint to a conference of children's advertisers at the same time and in the same Manhattan hotel.

Captive Audience Award: Channel One Network

"For using the public schools and compulsory schooling laws to require more than 8 million children to watch its daily commercials in their classrooms. Channel One TV programs market violent movies, junk food and other commercial fare to this captive audience."

Response: Jeff Ballabon, of Channel One, said its 10-minute daily newscast (accompanied by two minutes of ads) has won journalism awards and received positive reviews from teachers and principals.

Boycott Aimed at Channel One Ads
Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2001
by Edmund Sanders

A coalition of consumer groups and children's activists are planning to launch an advertising boycott today, aimed at New York-based Primedia Inc.'s Channel One Network, which distributes news, entertainment and paid commercials to U.S. classrooms.

The groups say Channel One, which is seen by about 8 million children in
12,000 schools nationwide, exploits students.

"Compelling impressionable children to view commercials during their limited
school time is repugnant," states a letter sent by the coalition to Channel
One advertisers, including government agencies who have bought air time on
the network.

A spokesperson for Channel One said the network has been consistently
honored for providing educational programming created specifically for
teenagers. "Channel One has had rave reviews from 98% of teachers who use
it," said Jeff Ballabon of Channel One.

Ballabon's statement can't be anything but a bald-faced lie. There's no way that 98% of teachers are going to submit any reviews, let alone rave-reviews, of anything, let alone a 12-minute newscast.

Washington Post, April 9, 2000, by Mark Francis Cohen:

Channel One was something of a public scourge, and it fomented a coast-to-coast uprising. The very notion of hanging a TV set in a classroom and prodding students to watch it -- and the commercials that support it -- inspired a whole lot of bile. Critics saw it as child exploitation and television mania run amok. New York and California banned the network, and almost every major educational group, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, denounced it.
Channel One's executives are quite aware of their unmatched position in the marketplace. In ads they have run in publications like Advertising Age, they pitch potential sponsors this way: "We have the undivided attention of millions of teenagers for 12 minutes a day -- that might be a world record."
Before Channel One was conceived, schools were considered sacrosanct. It was
unimaginable that educators would stand behind a profitable television company that hawked candy bars and high-priced sneakers to students in the classroom. At that time, corporations and schools did not enter into commercial agreements. Taco Bell wasn't sold in cafeterias. Coca-Cola didn't sponsor school events. Dell wasn't donating "Donated by Dell" computers.
Jeff Ballabon, a public relations executive at Channel One, is in the room,
too. "Our model is no different than any news organization!" Ballabon says,
visibly annoyed. "We use advertising to pay for the program, and it's an
expensive program to create. If we didn't care about the program, why would
we spend all that money?"

Washington Post, December 25, 1999

In her Dec. 12 Outlook article, "A School by Any Other Name Would Be . . .
Richer," Elizabeth Chang dismisses Channel One as a marketer that provides
TV monitors in exchange for showing advertisements in classrooms. This
description insults the journalists at Channel One and the educators who
support us.

Ninety-eight percent of educators who have Channel One in their schools
recommend the program to their colleagues. Channel One provides 12,000
schools around the country with a daily 12-minute news broadcast that is
produced specifically for middle and high school students. Ten times as many
teens receive their news from Channel One as from all other news sources in
the nation.

Our broadcast has won nearly 200 awards for journalistic excellence. How
disappointing that your publication would focus only on the delivery
mechanism and dismiss Channel One as a marketing scheme.

--Jeff Ballabon

The writer is executive vice president for network affairs at Channel One

Washington Post, July 2, 1997
Jeff Ballabon, senior vice president of Court TV, said the aftermath of the Simpson case has not prevented his cable network from gaining access to many
trials. "Initially," he said, "we had trouble getting into high-profile cases like {the murder of singer} Selena and Susan Smith," who was convicted in Union, S.C., of drowning her young sons. "But people realized it really didn't matter. . . . Now we're getting in about the same amount as we were before O.J."